The United States is not about to plunder Iraq's oil reserves, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who arrived in Baghdad Monday, said in a bid to soothe Iraqi partners rattled by remarks President Donald Trump made.
Trump has repeatedly said both while campaigning and since his election that America, whose troops occupied Iraq for eight years, should have grabbed Iraqi oil to help fund its war effort and to deprive ISIS group of a vital revenue source.
But Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded troops during the invasion of Iraq, appeared to nix the idea.
"All of us in America have generally paid for gas and oil all along, and I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future," Mattis told reporters before his visit to Baghdad. "We are not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil."
While speaking at the CIA headquarters last month, Trump cited the old adage, "To the victor belong the spoils," and said America "should have kept the oil" after pulling most of its troops out of the country under Barack Obama.
The president then added without elaborating that "maybe we'll have another chance".